At the end of every year, Benefits by Design publishes a list of predictions for the upcoming new year, and although we don’t want to toot our own horn too much, our predictions for 2017, 2018, and 2019 were pretty spot on. (Toot, toot!)
This year we’re upping our game a little bit. We’ve dug deep and picked the brains of almost every employee we have (and of course done the research) to get a sense of what they’re seeing in the marketplace from a variety of perspectives.
Here we go!
#1: Telehealth is Here to Stay
Telehealth and telemedicine solutions are everywhere these days and we expect public healthcare to continue to evolve to incorporate more digital health solutions. Recently, we’ve seen Babylon in British Columbia (BC) and a telehealth smoking cessation program in Ontario.
As time goes on, you can also expect private vendors to continue to consolidate and merge as the telehealth market begins to find its place in Canada.
#2: Biosimilars Are Taking Over?
Biosimilar uptake in Canada has been relatively low, especially when compared to many European countries (although we admit they’ve had them longer across the pond). However, with the provincial government in BC beginning to prefer biosimilars on provincial formularies, they are making the essential first move towards full biosimilar support.
As costs go up, an uptake in biosimilar medications to treat conditions at significantly lower costs will help keep plans sustainable, and ensuring new medication starts on biosimilars will only scratch the surface. We expect biosimilar market penetration will increase through these initiatives and Canada will likely see more provincial governments support this approach going forward.
#3: Cost of Benefits Going Up, Up, Up
Recent changes in legislature (particularly in Ontario) combined with increased incidences of benefits fraud may cause rates to increase going into 2020.
We think Dave Patriarche, a long-time group insurance Advisor (and someone we’ve worked closely with over the years) explains it best – you can check out his thoughts on this topic below.
#4: National Pharmacare
With the Liberal party now in control of a minority government, Trudeau’s government will have to work with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois to ensure its survival. So, what does this mean for National Pharmacare?
The NDP appear firm that a single payer, broad-based National Pharmacare program is the solution, while the Bloc will likely oppose any policy that infringes upon its provincial authority around healthcare. With the possibility of a recession looming, the Liberals may make incremental changes to policy on this issue and focus on addressing the uninsured and the under-insured rather than replacing the current public/private framework. Therefore, we predict 2020 will see considerable discussion on the subject but little immediate action. Beyond 2020 is anyone’s guess.
#5: The Importance of Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is not a new topic, but one we feel is going to be more of a focus going into 2020 in light of recent data breaches. Our Networking team has been keeping our data safe since our inception, and takes a defense in depth approach to data security. Suggestions for good cybersecurity include avoiding “free” services (nothing is ever free), utilize Two-Factor Authentication, create security policies and enforce their use with consistent training.
Employers and Advisors alike are going to want to beef up their online security this year if they haven’t already done so.
#6. Rise of the Robots (and Other Technologies)
In 2020, we expect to see more technological innovation and integration. Consider artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, assisting in areas such as education, customer support, big data, and marketing – and an even bigger play in the insurance industry.
We’re also expecting to see a number of FinTech companies and existing Third Party Administrators (TPA)s adding more technology to their systems through integrations with suppliers, third party applications, and services such as Human Resources (HR) systems.
#7. Personal Service is Back, Baby
Did it ever really go away? If you ask us, we would say no.
However, we understand that with the continued focus on technology, automation, and AI as we outlined above, people are concerned that the robots of the future won’t be able to deliver the same level of personalized service. We agree, but we see this less as a negative and more as an opportunity to double down on what we do best: customer service.
When you call Benefits by Design, you talk to a real person, and that’s not going anywhere. In 2020, we expect that amidst all of the technology talk, there will still be a need for personal service.
So there you have it – our predictions for what’s going to happen in 2020!
We can’t guarantee we’re totally right, but when you take a look at the trends and the way things are moving in the industry, we think everything points to one direction: times, they are a changin’. We’re looking forward to a great New Year in 2020 and a continued focus on helping working Canadians.